Max Neumann and Lotte Wilms have claimed victory at Sunday’s Qatar Airways IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast, with both athletes impressing on their way to the top step of the podium.
Neumann won the men’s title in 3:29:47, edging out Adelaide’s Steve McKenna, with defending champion Nicholas Free third, while Wilms took the women’s crown in 4:00:20, ahead of New Zealand’s Hannah Wells and Penny Slater.
Neumann last raced on the Sunshine Coast in 2020, where he finished second, with the Brisbane-based athlete going one better on Sunday.
The top three men were the class of the field all day, with less than a second separating them for almost the entire 21.1km run, before Neumann pushed ahead in the closing stages to be first across the line.
“It was a tough day, it’s always good to come back here,” he said. “The Sunshine Coast is a local race for me, just an hour drive from home and to have a good hit out four weeks before Kona is a good confidence booster and the perfect lead in to the final four weeks so it couldn’t have gone better.
“We swam well, broke up the group after the first 10kms, I just rode hard there at the front, then we consolidated that gap and got about two minutes at the front and then us three boys really ran a quick race to be honest, 1:09 here on a pretty tough course with the hills is actually pretty quick,” said Neumann. “It was about as quick as it gets today to be honest with you, so I think we’re all pretty happy.
“With about 5km to go I reckon we were running at about three minute pace and we really knocking it down there, I couldn’t crack Steve and then I got him on the last hill and just held it till the end,” he said.
Next stop for Neumann is the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship next month, with it set to be his first trip to Hawaii’s big island and the most famous event on the IRONMAN calendar.
“It’s going to be my first Kona, I haven’t had a great experience at the World Championships so far but Kona is special and it will bring something special out of me and I think the humidity will suit me so I’m pretty excited to be honest,” said Neumann.
Sunshine Coast-based Dutch athlete Lotte Wilms impressed once again at her adopted home race, winning the title for the second straight year, after claiming victory on her IRONMAN 70.3 debut in 2021.
“It was a great day, the conditions were really good, it wasn’t too windy, it was cloudy which is really nice on the Sunshine Coast as it can get really hot here,” said Wilms. “I felt really good in the swim, I always feel at home in the swim, I love to be in the ocean too, so I was really enjoying it. Then on the bike I had some goals and I could see the girls were making up some time on me after one lap so I pushed a little bit harder on the second lap.
“Then on the run I also had some goals, I wasn’t allowed to go full gas for the first 10kms because I’m going to race in America next week, later in the run I was supposed to go harder which was lucky because Hannah was catching me so I had someone to chase,” she said. “After 16kms I retook the lead and I didn’t let it go until the finish so it was a really good day.”
Wilms said that she enjoyed the close battle with Wells, with the Kiwi pushing her all the way on the run.
“It was nice to have the battle with Hannah because I was just racing with myself till 10km in the run, so it was really nice that someone else was picking up the speed, I couldn’t keep going with her for a while, so it distracts your mind for a little bit.”
The Sunshine Coast is quickly becoming a favourite location for Wilms, with the Dutch triathlete enjoying plenty of support on course.
“It’s fantastic, last year it was a big surprise, I loved it so much that I stayed here and I’m living here, it’s my home now, so now winning it for the second time is incredible,” she said. “I got so much support from the community, so much support from IRONMAN, there’s so many volunteers that I know, I feel at home, everyone is so welcoming.”
The 2022 Qatar Airways IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast is a sold out event, with more than 2,000 athletes contesting a 1.9km swim starting and finishing on Mooloolaba Beach, a 90km ride taking in the Sunshine Motorway and a 21.1km run finishing on the Mooloolaba Esplanade.
Qatar Airways IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.
For more information on Qatar Airways IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast visit https://www.ironman.com/im703-sunshine-coast
Header image: The men’s podium at the Qatar Airways IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast. Credit: Korupt Vision